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Edwards promises 'hope is on the way'
Updated: 2004-07-29 10:52

US Democrat John Edwards introduced himself to voters on Wednesday with an uplifting tribute to John Kerry as a "decisive, strong" leader and promised struggling Americans that "hope is on the way."

Ahead of Kerry's nomination as the Democratic challenger to President Bush, his running mate Edwards invoked the values of hard work and respect he learned growing up in a small Southern town and said Kerry would strive to lift up all Americans.

US Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator John Edwards gives a thumbs up to the delegation after being introduced at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, July 28, 2004.  [Reuters]

Edwards challenged Americans to reject partisanship and embrace "the politics of hope" -- a frequent rallying cry during his failed presidential campaign when he was Kerry's last major opponent.

"What John Kerry and I believe is that you should never look down on anybody, that we should lift people up," Edwards told the Democratic National Convention. "We don't believe in tearing people apart, we believe in bringing people together."

Edwards, who talked often during his presidential bid about the "two Americas" -- one for the rich and one for the struggling -- reprised the theme, but said "it doesn't have to be that way, we can build one America."

The speech by Edwards provided the first-term senator from North Carolina his biggest national stage and a prime-time televised showcase for a candidate voters know even less about than Kerry.

US Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards gestures to the crowd as he speaks before being confirmed as his party's vice presidential nominee, July 28, 2004 during the third night of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, at the FleetCenter in Boston. [Reuters]

Edwards, the son of a mill worker who was the first in his family to go to college, praised Kerry as a "decisive, strong" leader and said Republicans were "doing all they can to take this campaign for the highest office in the land down the lowest possible road."

He told Americans: "You can reject the tired, old, hateful, negative, politics of the past, and instead you can embrace the politics of hope."

Kerry, who will be formally nominated in a state-by-state roll call later on Wednesday, arrived in Boston surrounded by former Navy crewmates. They crossed Boston Harbor on the "Lulu E" -- a water taxi -- to greet supporters at the Charlestown Navy Yard a few hundred yards from the convention site.

"I just want to say Bruce Springsteen had it right. No retreat. No surrender," Kerry said after concluding a six-day cross-country trip to his hometown of Boston for the nomination and his nationally televised acceptance speech on Thursday.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein placed Kerry's name into nomination, calling him a leader who "will build those bridges necessary to restore America's credibility abroad."


The convention session on Wednesday focused heavily on Kerry's background as a decorated Vietnam War veteran, a key campaign attribute that advisers believe will counter Republican efforts to paint him as a traditional liberal who has not supported the military.

Twelve retired generals and admirals endorsed Kerry on Wednesday, and a special video tribute featured the officers talking about Kerry.

Retired Gen. John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the convention, "I truly believe no one will be more resolute in defending America nor in pursuing terrorists than John Kerry."

Kerry's crewmates "saw up close what he's made of. They saw him reach down and pull one of his men from the river and save his life," Edwards told the convention. "Decisive. Strong. Aren't these the traits you want in a commander in chief?"

Edwards said American soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere deserved a president who understands "on the most personal level what they have gone through, what they have given and what they have given up for their country."

He promised he and Kerry would have "one clear unmistakable message for al Qaeda and the rest of these terrorists. You cannot run. You cannot hide. And we will destroy you."

For many delegates, the speech by Edwards was their first close look at the one-time trial lawyer turned senator. Edwards, who joined the ticket three weeks ago to bring Kerry a jolt of youthful energy and Southern-style populism, arrived in Boston on Tuesday.

Democrats had promised their convention in Boston would set an upbeat, positive tone, but many of the speakers have attacked Bush and Republicans with glee even while avoiding much of the red meat negative rhetoric of the Democratic primary campaign.

Republicans said the convention had fallen far short of Democratic predictions.

"In fact, when you get beyond the spin, the attacks this week have been base and vile, and even if they are delivered with a smile, they are still attacks," Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said.

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